A school feeding programme that avails ready-to-drink porridge to Grade 1, 2 and 3 pupils in select public primary schools in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) is set to be upscaled after a successful pilot of the project.
The Super Porridge School Feeding Programme, which started with 5,000 pupils in its pilot stage that commenced in 2022, is now targeting to reach 50,000 pupils during the next academic year with the initiative supplying each pupil with a 250ml packet of fortified porridge each day to enhance their class attendance and concentration levels.
Speaking during an assessment tour of Mwangaza Primary School, one of the three beneficiaries of the pilot programme in Isiolo County, Tetra Pak Managing Director Jonathan Kinisu noted that the super porridge programme has improved accessibility to crucial micronutrients needed by the pupils and in the process enhanced their attention in class.
“I hope this programme will be a catalyst to improve education attendance and attention in class. We intend to scale up the programme to reach 50,000 learners starting the next academic year. Our mission is to enhance food accessibility and ensure that it is safe,” said Kinisu.
The “Porridge 4 Education Programme” is being implemented by the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK), a semi-autonomous government agency under the Ministry of Education, and aims to address the issues of food safety and access to safe nutrition in schools.
The programme, which develops the liquid ready-to-drink cereal-based “Super Porridge” for pupils, is a collaboration between Tetra Pak, Tetra Pak Food for Development, Ingredion, DSM, and Jetlak Foods Limited and is being piloted in Isiolo, Samburu and Garissa Counties.
NACONEK Chief Executive Officer Harun Mohamed Yussuf said the programme is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to achieve universal education while boosting the health and nutrition of school going children across the country.
“The Porridge 4 Education Programme seeks to return out-of-school learners and we appeal to the county government and other partners to continue supporting school feeding programmes to improve education outcomes,” said Yussuf in a statement read on his behalf by NACONEK Coordinator Beatrice Ooko.
The super porridge is produced using locally sourced crops, and pays special attention to locally grown climate resilient crops that contain maize, soy, sorghum and sweet potato and is highly fortified with 15 micronutrients including Vitamin A, C, E, Calcium, Zinc and Iron.
“We get the ingredients from smallholder farmers. The super porridge has 15 micronutrients to improve the cognitive abilities and also reduce malnutrition,” stated Unibrain Technologies Limited Executive Director Oscar Makokha.
“The school attendance has improved significantly in Mwangaza Primary School since they started taking the porridge,” added Ingredion Managing Director Ken Ouma.
According to the Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC), the number of children attending school in the country is 18.3 million with a national enrolment average of 85%.
However, 90% of the 2.4 million children not attending school live in the ASAL regions.